Can finding love really be this easy?
The internet is bursting at the seams with advice on how to find ‘the one’. When researching this post I was rather surprised to discover that there are literally billions of google results to the query, and this made me wonder.
With so much advice out there, why are so many people still single?
While it’s true that some people are perfectly happy about being single, you don’t have to look too far on social media to see just how many folks are looking to fall in love. Finding the right prospects is clearly a difficult challenge, and that’s not even considering the falling in love part.
Wouldn’t it just be easier if we could look to science, to something we know is proven to create results?
The good news is we can. In a 1997 SUNY Stony Brook study, psychologist Arthur Aron explored whether intimacy between two perfect strangers could be accelerated by having them ask each other 36 personal questions. He succeeded.
In the study a heterosexual man and women entered a lab and while sitting face to face they began answering a series of increasingly personal questions. Once the questions where over they stared silently into each other’s eyes for four minutes.
The interesting part: six months later they were married.
Falling in love is the easy part
Thing is, in an attempt to avoid heartache and rejection we tend to look for scientific answers for love. We may even feel that if we find enough logic behind the love that we may not feel so lonely.
If anything, what the logic behind love provides is patience and comfort – there’s a possibility it might work out. What I found to be really enticing about these 36 questions is that they almost feel like a shortcut to falling in love. A path of less resistance where we may be able to mitigate the risks involved. And that is appealing because falling in love is pretty amazing. Research has shown that love elicits exactly the same dopamine response in our brain as cocaine, food, and alcohol. Love then can literally make us feel high.
While these 36 questions do provide a method for someone to fall in love quickly. It’s also terrifying because it only solves one part of the equation. When we admit to falling in love with someone we open ourselves up to the possibility of having a lot to lose – to getting hurt.
It’s this notion that brings up an entirely different set of questions. How do we decide who deserves our love? and, how do we know when its appropriate to call things quits? These are very real questions and at some point, they creep into every relationship, and sometimes some are even harder to contemplate, how do we cope with a partner who is in doubt?
Falling in love is therefore not the same as staying in love. We may not always have a choice in who we fall in love with, but we do have a choice in where we take those feelings. And once we do make that choice it is a choice we have to make over and over. It’s scary to not know if your partner will make that choice too.
The reality is that once the feeling of falling in love wears off a relationship becomes work. Relationships stop being fun when we stop trying to make them fun. But things don’t have to be that way. A 2011 study conducted at Stony Brook University in New York found that it is possible for couples to still be madly in love after decades. With the help of fMRI scans, the study detected the same intensity in dopamine-rich areas as those who are newly in love. While It is natural for a relationship to transform from passion to compassion, the authors of this study suggest that this type of love can be reignited through sex which activates the brain’s rewards circuit with increased oxytocin levels.
Apart from sexual intimacy, what also seems to be a key factor for successful older relationships is that the partners always chose to work on themselves first – It’s hard to make a relationship work when you’re stuck on your own insecurities. They also chose to work at keeping the excitement alive, and they chose to always celebrate each other’s accomplishments. While this may take some effort, it does sound simple enough.
So, if you’re inspired to whip out these questions on your next date( I know I’m excited to experiment) Just remember the point isn’t just to fall in love. It’s about choosing to make it work in the long run.